Do you remember the scene at the start of Cliffhanger in which the girl’s safety harness snaps 4,000 feet above an endless abyss and Frank the helicopter pilot is inexplicably smiling? “You’re not gonna die!” Oh yes she is, and then Frank starts laughing like a maniac.
Phew! Well maybe that’s why the operators of Go Monkey, a new treetop climbing centre aimed at seven to 80-year-olds in Gladsaxe just north of the city, make sure all their apes have two safety lines attached at all times. The adrenaline of that opening scene, however, is available in abundance.
It’s particularly good news for the parents of children who don’t think of themselves as kids and can often feel short-changed by the entertainment aimed at their age-group. They hit 11 or 12 and the excitement they used to feel when confronted by an arthritic cat is replaced by a sullen defiance that everything, beyond the odd rollercoaster, is either too childish or boring.
Well, we’ve got news for you, Buster! Go Monkey is no child’s play and will test the very testiest of teenagers. It offers visitors the chance to take to the treetops to negotiate a series of obstacles – rope and wire bridges, suspended planks and steps and finally zip-lines to take you back down to earth – that all get progressively more challenging and longer depending on the level. Like in skiing, they are colour-coded green (ages 7-9), blue (ages 10-13) and red (14+) according to their difficulty. The longest zip-line is an impressive 100 metres long – which many might agree is worth the admission price alone – and a black zone with a 150m zipline is apparently in the pipeline.
And it’s not just for kids. Blindfold your vertigo-suffering boss and surprise him with a Gladsaxe view of your office 15 metres off the ground ahead of a day of team-building. It’s a great fit for offices, schools, universities, foreign exchange programmes, sports clubs, reunions, stag and hen nights, and anyone who fancies a day of fun with friends and family.
Go Monkey is the brainchild of Michel Pascual, a Spanish-Danish resident of Vesterbro with a genetic disposition for the Pyrenean, Andean and Danish diligence. He has spent the last four years looking for the perfect place to introduce to his home city a phenomenon that is quite common in other European countries – most particularly France and Germany. His original plan was to set one up in a forest – you would think that would make sense, but his first preferred site fell through when he was informed that the government did not want to set a precedent of leasing state-owned woodland to private enterprises.
So it is rather by luck, and not design, that Go Monkey’s location, which Pascual has a six-year lease on, is so accessible to city residents. It is quite simply not what you would expect, as on first inspection, it’s not located in woodland, but a few rows of perimeter trees, presumably grown to mark off the territories of various buildings – one of which is Gladsaxe Stadion.
It doesn’t have a perimeter, so it is completely free to watch (and catch if need be), and simply blends into the existing landscape of the Gladsaxe Sports Centre, organically so in fact, as the fixtures are carefully attached to the trees (for example, there is no drilling) to leave no lasting damage.
Gladsaxe Sports Centre, meanwhile, is a mini Olympic village of its own, where you can try swimming, football, archery, softball, beach volleyball and handball, ten-pin bowling, skating and krolf (a mix between croquet and golf) – so many facilities that some might consider staying at the onsite hostel and spending a whole weekend there. While Go Monkey has its own shop selling snacks and refreshments, the centre has its own café and restaurant.
Which sounds great, but in the immortal words of Laurence Olivier’s Nazi dentist: “Is it safe?” The answer is a resounding “Yes”. Built by the reputable Bloecher, the same experts who put up the climbing playground at the Knuthenborg Safari Park, every single obstacle has been tested and approved by the Teknologisk Institut and the police. The onsite fully-trained staff provide training to newcomers (remember to wear sensible shoes and gloves for grip) on a ground-level course and monitor the obstacles, assisting when necessary.
And unlike Frank, they won’t laugh if there’s an emergency, as your visit to Go Monkey will only end in one way: with an enormous sense of satisfaction, and no cliffhangers in sight!
Gladsaxe Sportscenter, Vandtårnsvej 55, Søborg; opened Aug 2, open Mon-Wed 10:00-15:00, Thu-Fri 10:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-19:00; free adm to watch, tickets to climb: ages 7-9: 130kr, ages 10-13: 160kr, over-14s: 200kr; 2685 2089; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gomonkey.dk